John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Home Truths About the Size of Nigeria’s Economy

by John Campbell Thursday, August 25, 2016
Traders work at the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Lagos, February 13, 2015. The naira has crashed through the key level of 200 to the dollar this week in a rout sparked by weak oil prices and escalating tension over the postponement of a presidential election in Africa's biggest economy. (Reuters /Joe Penney) Traders work at the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Lagos, February 13, 2015. The naira has crashed through the key level of 200 to the dollar this week in a rout sparked by weak oil prices and escalating tension over the postponement of a presidential election in Africa's biggest economy. (Reuters /Joe Penney)

In 2014, following the first revision of Nigeria’s gross domestic product data in two decades, Abuja announced that its economy had overtaken South Africa’s as the largest in Africa. Using the rebased data, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that that Nigeria’s economy grew at 12.7 percent between 2012 and 2013. Thereafter, there was some triumphalist rhetoric about the size and strength of the economy from personalities in then-president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the run up to the 2015 elections and among those promoting foreign investment in Nigeria. However, in 2016, reflecting the dramatic fall in petroleum prices and the value of the national currency, the naira, the IMF concluded that Nigeria’s GDP had fallen behind that of South Africa. The Economist noted that foreign investors are likely to be discouraged by the latest figures. Read more »

The New Architecture of South African Politics

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane looks on next to Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota, ahead of a media briefing in Sandton, South Africa, August 17,2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane looks on next to Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota, ahead of a media briefing in Sandton, South Africa, August 17,2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Following the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) decline in the August 3 municipal elections, in effect a referendum on the scandal plagued administration of President Jacob Zuma, South African politics looks dramatically different. The big winners were the formal opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a radical party based in the townships. But, minority parties are also more important now. In the elections, in four metropolitan areas and twenty-three smaller local councils, no single party secured the necessary 50 percent plus one majority. A largely monolithic ANC (it had controlled all of the major metropolitan areas except Cape Town and still has a huge majority in the National Assembly), now faces multiparty coalitions in Johannesburg, Tshwane (Pretoria), Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), and Rustenburg. These metros are at the heart of South Africa’s modern economy; Johannesburg is the richest city in sub-Saharan Africa and the country’s economic engine. Of the largest metros, the ANC retains unchallenged control only of Durban. Read more »

Africa at the Olympics

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Women's 10,000m Victory Ceremony Gold medallist Almaz Ayana (ETH) of Ethiopia, silver medallist Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (KEN) of Kenya and bronze medallist Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) of Ethiopia pose with their medals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Reuters/Alessandro Bianch) Women's 10,000m Victory Ceremony Gold medallist Almaz Ayana (ETH) of Ethiopia, silver medallist Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (KEN) of Kenya and bronze medallist Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) of Ethiopia pose with their medals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Reuters/Alessandro Bianch)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Now that the Olympics are over, it is time to tally up the medal totals. Sub-Saharan Africa made its mark on the competition. The breakdown is as follows: Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 13 – August 19

by John Campbell Monday, August 22, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from August 13, 2016 to August 19, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

United States Foreign Policy Priorities in West Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, August 18, 2016
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (R) greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 1, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (R) greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 1, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The below remarks come from a speech delivered on August 16, at an Area Studies Seminar at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Foreign Service Institute, Arlington, Virginia.

I would like to open with thanks to the Foreign Service Institute for the opportunity to talk about U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Sahel and West Africa. I would hope that these formal remarks will help to frame our subsequent discussion. Read more »

Yellow Fever in Central Africa: A Preventable Epidemic

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, August 17, 2016
A Congolese man is vaccinated during an emergency campaign of vaccination against yellow fever in Kisenso district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 20, 2016. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe) A Congolese man is vaccinated during an emergency campaign of vaccination against yellow fever in Kisenso district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 20, 2016. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe)

Gabriella Meltzer is a research associate in the Council on Foreign Relations Global Health program.

From Ebola to Zika, recent global health crises have been defined by unpredictable outbreaks of mysterious pathogens. However, the yellow fever epidemic currently sweeping across Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not only predictable, but could have been stopped by the World Health Organization (WHO) with the necessary political will and logistical organization. Read more »

Illegal Mining and the Role of “Zama Zamas” in South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, August 16, 2016
A miner is seen underground at Lonmin Plc's Karee mine in Marikana, Rustenburg 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, March 5, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A miner is seen underground at Lonmin Plc's Karee mine in Marikana, Rustenburg 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, March 5, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

In recent years, the mining industry has struggled to turn a profit due to a slowdown in demand from China’s economy and an oversupply from producers. South Africa’s mining companies, who export primarily platinum, iron ore, gold, coal, and manganese, have been heavily affected by the downturn. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 6 – August 12

by John Campbell Monday, August 15, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from August 6, 2016 to August 12, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Troubling Clampdown on Opposition in Tanzania

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, August 12, 2016
Former Tanzania's Prime Minister and main opposition party CHADEMA presidential candidate Edward Lowassa (C) addresses a campaign rally at Ruaha in Kilombelo District in Tanzania, October 23, 2015. Tanzanians will go to the poll on October 25, to elect the fifth president.  (Reuters/Emmanuel Herman) Former Tanzania's Prime Minister and main opposition party CHADEMA presidential candidate Edward Lowassa (C) addresses a campaign rally at Ruaha in Kilombelo District in Tanzania, October 23, 2015. Tanzanians will go to the poll on October 25, to elect the fifth president. (Reuters/Emmanuel Herman)

Tyler Falish is a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development and a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli is known as “the Bulldozer,” a moniker reflecting his knack for pushing through big infrastructure projects during his time as minister of works. As president, he has received praise for his anti-corruption platform, as well as his very public displays of support for government thrift. However, Magufuli has also tightened the vise on opposition to his party. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Factional Feud

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, August 11, 2016
Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn. Jacob is a fellow of African affairs at The Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC.

Since Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to self-proclaimed Islamic State’s leader Abubakar al-Baghdadi in March 2015, Boko Haram has been known as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). From that pledge until August 8, 2016, the formerly bombastic Shekau had not been seen publicly. During this period, Shekau and his former rival for Boko Haram leadership, Mamman Nur, appear to have been locked in a factional feud, with the two of them sending audios behind-the-scenes condemning one another. Nevertheless, until August 3 the Islamic State recognized Shekau as the “wali,” or governor, of ISWAP. Read more »